"Barack Obama doesn't care about white people!"
No, country star Taylor Swift didn't say that about the president. Nor did any of the entertainers who performed on a telethon to raise money for victims of the historic floods ravaging parts of Tennessee, Kentucky and Mississippi. None accused the Obama administration of indifference or lack of attentiveness to these floods.
Swift, who contributed $500,000, was one of many stars who appeared on this fundraiser put on by the Nashville NBC affiliate, WSMV, and carried by other Tennessee stations.
In 2005, a Hurricane Katrina relief telethon was carried live on CBS, ABC, Fox, and NBC and more than 25 other channels. A separate telethon was broadcast on MTV, VH1 and CMT. During a Katrina fundraiser, rapper Kayne West accused President George W. Bush of indifference to the plight of those suffering. West said, "George W. Bush doesn't care about black people."
Hurricane Katrina was catastrophic. It caused over 1,500 deaths, with property damage estimated at near $100 billion and hundreds of thousands of people displaced. The failures of local and state responders, the widely criticized federal response and subsequent finger pointing made a tragically newsworthy story even more so.
And, at the moment, there is no shortage of significant news. Major stories include the naturalized American Muslim terrorist who admitted placing a car bomb in Times Square. An underwater oil rig erupted in the Gulf of Mississippi, creating the largest domestic oil spill since the Exxon Valdez. Arizona passed a controversial anti-illegal alien law that critics claim "legalizes racial profiling." Greece faces a financial collapse.
But has the traditional media devoted the time and attention warranted by the historic floods?
"We have been astonished by the lack of national coverage of this disaster," Elden Hale, general manager of Nashville's WSMV, told me. He acknowledged that the story competed with the Times Square terrorist and the Gulf oil spill. He said, "But still..."
How big a deal are these floods?